Category Archives: Fiction Friday



Though his memories were vague, he thought he remembered the beginning. He had had a sense of closeness, of comfort. He remembered slowly feeling trapped and, eventually breaking free from the shell enclosing his body. Then, his world infinitely expanded, he had looked around, and experienced wonder. Wonder at the enormous sky, the shining sun, the gleaming grass. For the first time in his life, he saw colour. He also heard sounds that, moments before, he hadn’t known were muffled, having had no reference for the concept. For the first time ever, he felt the freedom movement, unconstrained but for gravity … and mere moments later, he felt fear as his brother vanished before his eyes, snatched by a tremendous green monster. The speed of it’s strike shook the leaf and he fell.

The fall, he remembered quite clearly. He remembered the rushing air, huge spikes of grass speeding past his face, and the body-jarring shock when he finally hit the ground.

Winded, he had lain there for a long time, trying to place meaning around what had just happened. Eventually and with great caution, he crept out on to a branch and, carefully bit into a leaf. He almost lost himself in the sensation, the flavor, the juiciness, the crunch. Every bite was a tiny slice of utter perfection. It was only the trauma of his earliest moments that allowed him to keep a kernel of self awareness, so he knew when to drop, when to run, and when to hide from those larger and considerably more dangerous than himself.

He was lucky and, as time went by, He grew and grew.

As time went by, he learned about birds, and how to stay under the leaves to avoid them. He knew about mantids and how to watch for their heads, silhouetted against the sky. He grew defenses against most attacks and, with his increased size, most of his enemies seemed fearful and more inclined to pursue easier prey.

Eventually, the initial glory of his world began to tarnish. He’d seen it all before, and his days become nothing but unending repetition. He grew sluggish, feeling that there was little point. One day, he just stopped, and hung on a twig, scarcely aware that his skin was changing. As his heart had grown hardened to the world around him, his skin hardened and, walled off from the world once again, he slept.

Weeks later, when he awoke, he felt different, but like before, felt trapped. This time, though, he knew how to respond and ripped his way free. Then, he rested and explored his new self. Everything was different. The world itself looked different, with more vibrant colour and tastes in the air. He found himself ravenous once more … not for food, but for exploration. Unlike last time, there was no attack, just a slight gust of wind, and he found him falling once more.

This time, though, he didn’t fall for long. Moving muscles he didn’t know he possessed, he found himself falling slowly and, eventually, falling upwards. At first, he did not know what to make of the experience, but soon, he found himself soaring the breezes, exploring lands he’d only once glimpsed from a distance from atop the tallest plants.

He’d experienced a lot in those first few days. Birds were still a problem, but most of his enemies from his older life were laughingly easy to avoid. One twitch and he was airborne, leaving them grasping in his general direction and he soared away, victorious. His sense of smell was much stronger and he learned about flowers. His first flower was much like his first leaf, and he lost himself within it, emerging coated with sticky nectar but no longer hungry. He followed the scent from flower to flower, choosing only the best parts of each for, unlike leaves, flowers were complex and he quickly grew accustomed to taking only the best for himself, leaving the rest to the masses of bees that shared his sky.

Life went on in the manner, days an orgy of scent, flavor, color, and motion. Nights spent resting in safety. Until one day he smelled a different scent in their air. Following it for what seemed like forever, he eventually traced it to someone. She was stunning. Their courtship was intense, but brief. In the end, he felt sated in a way he never had before, no matter how much he ate.

He’d lost her to a particularly strong burst of wind and went back to his flowers before exploring further afield. Over time, his explorations took a toll. He grew increasingly tired as the days grew increasingly cold and the flowers grew scarce. That was okay, though, for he found he wasn’t as hungry as before. He was less and less willing to explore, being content to sit and to ponder.

He thought about the glory of new experience and the pang of sudden loss. He thought of fear and love and sadness and joy. He thought of all he had seen, everywhere he had been. He’d been trapped twice, once by the shell of another and once by the shell of himself. Now he was trapped simply by the weight of his life, lacking the energy to move. A part of him wanted to soar one last time, to have one last experience, but he was trapped again, but exhaustion, by remembrance.

Was it, in the end, worth it? Had there been meaning in his life? Should there have been?

He didn’t know, but he thought these were questions worth pondering for a little while longer.

People Zoo


It was opening day for the season at People Zoo and the goats were visiting. The kids liked to visit and play with the people, feeling safe with the barriers in place. Some of the older animals sometimes thought it cruel to keep the people trapped but when they looked at the widespread devastation they had wrought when previously unchecked, they realized that things were better this way. Besides, the people got better food and health care in captivity than they had been able to get in the wild. They lived longer. They seemed happier. It was probably a good system. After all, it was better than letting them go extinct, right?

There were still the debates. A radical people rights activist group once broke into People Zoo and let several people free. However, unable to provide for themselves in an environment devoid of fast food stores and malls, they were eventually re-captured, dirty and starving, and re-introduced to their clans. Some falsified documentaries were made to drive interest in the cause, which caused a bit of hubbub for a while before the animals realized what had happened and came to their senses before anything catastrophic was done, that could have risked the long term survival of the people.

Eventually, some animals got the bright idea to ask the people if they were doing okay, both individually and as a species.

The people blinked at them a bit, then grabbed a bag of chips, a soda, and went back to watching TV.

Halloween Story – The Dodo


The scariest Halloween story for today was not written by me, but by humanity itself.

The Lesson of the Dodo

First sighted around 1600, it took humans less than 80 years to push the Dodo to extinction. The Dodo’s demise was primarily caused by the destruction of its forest habitat. Introduced cats, rates, and pigs, along with humans, ate this flightless bird and its eggs. Although humans may have been known to cause the extinction of many other animal species before the Dodo, it was the first time in recorded history that humans realized their actions caused its extinction.

The last recorded living Dodo was seen in 1681.

(Author of plaque and sculptor unknown.)

Halloween Story: The Brick

“$100 per brick, any message” read the sign.

That’s when he had the only complete vision of his life, surrounded by the budding trees and the sounds of spring. This was the place. It was where they had met. It was where they had their first date, their first kiss.

He had thought only of the romance when he filled in the form, paid the money, and winked conspiratorially at the clerk as he left. “It will be perfect” he thought.

As the weeks went by, he waited, biding his time. As the seasons passed, the new walkway was built. He hoped it would open soon, but as always, there were delays.

The two would still visit the park every week, though the spot itself was barricaded off. As time went by and the days began to grow dimmer, she grew more distant. He did what he could, asking what the problem was but not understanding her answers of “I’m just thinking” or “it’s about my family” or “I don’t want to talk about it”.

He knew that her family had expectations of her, that she was, eventually, to have to pass some sort of test. But that was in the future and, he was certain, their love was strong enough to withstand any changes that may come.

Then, finally, the day arrived. Though the day was dark and snowy and she seemed even more withdrawn than had become usual, he cajoled her until she acquiesced to their weekly walk. He was envisioning the look on her face as he knelt down to brush the snow off the pathway. He was so distracted by his vision of the future that he barely felt the cold metal until he saw the other end of her long knife protruding from his chest.

“Wha…?” he gasped as he died, looking first at the retreating knife tip, then at the brick, as tears fell from his face as blood poured from his chest.

Crystal stepped around his body and, for the first time, saw his message to her. She knew she was being watched but couldn’t help but to shed a single tear, which joined his growing pool. Then she turning her back, having passed the final test, walked out into the snow rejoining her family as a full assassin.


There then the brick lay, getting covered in snow, marking the place where they had met. It marked the place of their first date, their first kiss. It marked her first kill and his only death.

And there it lays today, forever stained by tears.

Halloween Story – The Shoe

After losing many people in the attempts to catch or kill, the city officials had given up, and merely fenced it from the rest of the park.

Still, there were incidents.

It was common, after all, to momentarily mislay a child. Perhaps she ran off to play. Maybe he and a friend wandered to the sandbox. Sometimes they were climbing a tree, chasing the ice cream truck, or just temporarily lost in the crowd.

That was when it hunted.

All it took was one moment of panic. That’s how it always started, with that one fatal mistake. Though everyone knew the advice “stay put”, it was hard to follow when visions of horror were brought up in the imagination. That’s when they run around. That’s when, sometimes, they look at the fence and think “No, my child couldn’t climb that …” but then the doubt sets in and the question arises “… right?”

That question is always the beginning of the end. That is when they think: “Maybe the fence is really not that high” … “maybe there’s a gap” … “maybe a hole underneath.” Some take longer than others, but eventually, every victim thinks the same thing.

“I should check.”

And then it’s over. It’s always the same. A gasp of recognition. A pause as they disbelieve their eyes. A rush of movement as they race to verify. Then, always, a loud SNAP, heard throughout the park.


And, while their child plays, runs, slides, or swings on the other side of the fence, the angler bench resets its lure and awaits the next parent.



Stalking the dark-stormed land, he wonders if he truly is the last.

The war had been vicious. Much had been lost. He had lost his family. He had lost his friends. He had lost his very home.

But had he lost everything? Were there none like him? Was he to eke out the remainder of his days as the last shining remnant of a forgotten world?

He didn’t know. All he could do was what he had done, traveling, looking for hope. Hope that the next century would not draw to a close as last had … leaving him forever alone and lost in a corrupt and corrupting land.

And so, for one more day, he walked.

Flamingo 2

A nearby explosion shuddered the trees and she dove for cover and turned off her gear. Seconds later, leaves and twigs fell like shrapnel as the triad hunting her scampered amongst the branches. They’d been seeking her for weeks but she was getting even better at hiding than she had in the city, but then she’d had to learn. The triads were crafty. They were fast. They were nimble.

They could out-run her, out-climb her, and out-swim her. If she didn’t find a way to get some sleep and a decent meal, they’d be out-thinking her and then it would all be over. So there she hung, in the tree, doing her counts as the triad moved past. She had the count down. She’d seen four claws, three horns, two tails, then counted out one full minute. The pattern held and she sensed she was safe enough. She slithered out of the hollow tree to join him.

They’d been connected by the deepest magic and so he was strongest at the turning points. Midnight, of course, and both dusk – from the instant when the sun touched the earth to when it vanished from sight entirely – to dawn, when it reversed. Everyone knew these turning points, but he was teaching her that magic was point of view and she was learning how to see.

There was magic in the moment between when the frog leapt when its trailing foot disappeared beneath the ripples, the entire world holding its breath. There was magic in the moment between the gust of wind and when the dandelion gave up its courage, letting seeds fly. London was still a long way off, but she hoped there would be magic in the city still … maybe in the moment between when the fog blurred the lampposts and the moment they disappeared. Maybe she could do something with that brief moment of imbalance when her shoe miscaught a cobble and she weren’t entire sure that she weren’t going to fall. If it hadn’t been destroyed in The Flash, she had hopes to find power in the chimes of Big Ben. However, until she got there, she’d never know. She laughed a little as she thought about yesterday’s test, confirming that one of the longest turnings was starting. It made perfect sense, after all. The sun always seemed to hang there forever, but no one ever spoke of the magic of noon.

She joined her friend, her secret weapon, in the clearing.

He was many things to her – a friend when she needed one, her only confidant, a mentor, a child, and during those few moments when her fear dropped away, a playmate. They’d been practicing though in a few minutes he’d be more. He’d have to be if they were going to escape the seekings … even if just for a little while. Tonight, he would become her steed.

Caribbean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber)_2

He was waiting for her.

She stood beside him and they watched the shadows. Then, as expected, the sun stalled, and Alice rode her flamingo up and out of the triad’s hunting grounds.

Wood Lake – Infrared – Chaos

Wood Lake_5

In the beginning, there was nothing but chaos. The chaos, however, was imperfect. Infinitesimally small bubbles of order, ineradicable, were spread throughout.

Over time, these bubbles attracted one another, merging. As regions of order widened, the world we now know began to appear. Small bubbles allowed for the existence of small things … a proton here, an atom there. Larger bubbles allowed these small objects to combine and, as the ages passed, stars began to form.

Order is, however, unstable and disturbances can happen. Some stars shrank away, vanishing into nothing. Others exploded, expanding the bubble of order into a bubble filled with a different form of chaos. This chaos, like all chaos, was imperfect and its bubbles of order allowed for the formation of what we now call asteroids, moons, and planets.

It was within the chaotic oceans of one planet, in particular, where order concentrated and became self-perpetuating. Where, after almost unimaginable time, order became self-aware and gained a sense of purpose. Order began to actively explore the chaos.

At first, such exploration was limited. Life was constrained to shallow seas where it could absorb order streaming from the sun, wrapping it around itself for protection from the chaos of the deep dark. Eventually, however, life expanded, bringing a higher form of order to the land.

Considerably later, life became intentional, exploring the chaos and spreading order upwards throughout time, developing communication, then language, then writing so order can be gifted to future generations, intensifying order into understanding and then knowledge. Life, however, is unstable and disturbances can happen. Conflict, fighting, wars … these all place knowledge at risk. To protect the knowledge, from misuse and abuse, it was hidden by life.

At first, knowledge was hidden within knowledge, the mere existence of writing being unintelligible to noninitiates. However, order marches ever onwards and as literacy became common, other methods were required. Life began to hide knowledge in chaos, burying it within the very material from which it was extracted.

At first, of course, knowledge was buried in the shallows and the cleverest of life fought amongst themselves to see who could bury it deepest and still retrieve order from the chaos. Alphabetic substitution gave way to polyalphabetic which fell to pre-defined keys and electromechanical rotors.

Today, such knowledge is wrapped within mathematics, a form of order drawn directly from the chaos that surrounds all, hiding knowledge deep within that chaos so it blends with the chaotic background of the universe itself.

However, such mathematics is imperfect. If one knows where to look, one can see deep within the hidden messages, infinitesimally small bubbles of order, ineradicable, are spread throughout.


As far back as memory stretches, the dock had been there. No one knew who had built it, just that it was there, made of a dark type of ice that glinted not in the sun, but at midnight … only at midnight.

The elders spoke of its destruction, the story passed down the generations, of the time of the great war, when the fallen had returned, fighting on the other side. Their village had been almost destroyed but, in the final cataclysm, the dock was shattered as the last wave of reinforcements approached.

The shards of ice took years to finally sink from sight and as they did, the returned fallen grew ever thinner until they were gone from sight, the last one crying in the arms of her love as she faded away.

The elders also spoke of its recreation, one year later, out of stone. The footings were quarried from distant mountains and platforms hewn from boulders from the fields, each piece meeting her strict specifications. One solitary boat was launched and, as it drifted towards the horizon, the dock crumbled, vanishing into the depths as the boat did into the mist.

The story told of the boat’s eventual return and the village prepared. At the annual remembrance of the war and the launch, they practiced, each year’s team trying to beat the time of the last. They could build a new dock out of wood in three hours, position it in one to land upon the few footings that remained. The team of six, for a wooden dock could support no more, could race from one end to the other in fifteen seconds, leaving two entire minutes to board the boat, rescue the two passengers, and return, before the dock would catch fire, sizzling as charred pieces danced across the surface, growing ever smaller.

That might be enough time.

After each year’s session, they would mourn. Sometimes for those team members that ran too fast, overshooting and skidding into the lake itself. Sometimes for those who ran too slowly or stumbled, and were caught in the conflagration. Always though, they would morn for their ancestor, name lost to time, who departed in the boat, seeking her love.

Then, they would feast, in memory of the many that had stayed and grown old. The elders would re-tell the stories, grandparents would share memories, and children would race around playing games.

And so it was, every year that there was one day of sweat, one day of tears, and one day of joy.


Such is the cost of living on the border of death.

Bearded Dragon (Pogona)

Bearded Dragon (Pogona)_3

It had taken weeks to craft, working in secret every night when all others had fled to their burrows to hide from the night. It had taken months to gather the gems, and years to discover the potions and master the technique of melting the gems together. But at long last, the globe was done. Tonight, he would finally rest.

Tomorrow, he would risk it all, and try to steal fire from the sun.

No longer

It had started out fun, but it had never felt right to her.

The warning sign, really, should have been his friend. Always hanging around the two of them, at first she’d thought he was an awkward “third wheel”, but he’d been his friend longer than she’d been with him, so she tried to keep an open mind.

She’d tried to set him up with some of her friends, and try the couple of couples thing. Neither of her friends lasted more than two dates with him. She’d thought it odd that when she asked why, they had both gotten quiet, looked away and mumbled something about him not really being interested in them.

So, it was back to three for a while, though she tried to make dates for just the two of them when she could. It was hard to play along with the charade of being a happy couple when he was sitting nearby, watching them. Something was wrong with those eyes, looking at his own reflection when he wasn’t staring at her.

She knew he was trying to be friendly. Telling jokes, trying to be witty. Still, it felt forced. Eventually, it felt creepy.

Last night was the last straw. It was just a movie, but he sat a little too close to her. She felt trapped between the two of them, unable to enjoy the night at all. When he’d left and was just the two of them, she tried to talk about but her boyfriend brushed the topic off yet again. She’d tried to make him see, but he wouldn’t.

Hooded Capuchin (Cebus paella cay)_1

This morning she sat, phone in hand, thinking, trying to work up the energy to have the discussion. To tell him that he had to make a choice. That it was him or her. But in the end, she decided the point was probably moot. She’d already made her decision.

Today, she was going to break up with Jessie.

She was going to be her own girl.

Decision Points

He was torn. He loved her, he thought, but he also loved his family. He remembered his father’s words, making it clear that he was to work the farm not chase after “some damn glittering fog devil”. She, on the other hand, was wonderful. He’d met her by the lake, seen her dancing in the mist, mere hair-breadths above the surface of the water, shining in the rising moon. When she’d seen him, she winked as she sank out of sight, leaving nary a ripple behind.

He didn’t know what to do then. Part of him wanted to run away, remembering the stories his gran had told about witches in the woods, but part of him wanted to dive in after her.

He settled for coming back the next day, or maybe he’d stayed. He couldn’t quite remember, his mind’s eye full of the soft flow of hair, the flick of a wrist, the quick glimpse of a toe.

That morning, as he sat by the lake waiting for the sun to rise above the mountains, he felt cold and damp, as expected, but he also felt strange … uncertain whether to call out or hide behind the boulder, uncertain whether to give up and go home, or to go home, bring back a boat and row out to meet her. Then he saw her eyes gleaming in the distance, staring deep into his.

He lost track of time as she danced and, again, vanished.

The next day … perhaps later on the same day … he thought back to his gran’s stories, about the young men and the women of the village that had vanished. He knew that it has something to do with the people in the mist, but so few could describe them to him. He’d only ever heard about people that saw them from a distance. He knew he had to talk to his gran … eventually. Maybe he’d wait just a bit more.

His gran couldn’t tell him anything that he didn’t already know. She mentioned that someone she had cared about when she was his age vanished, but that it was OK because she’d met his paps, and eventually come to have his father. She warned him away from the lake, like she always had as far back as he could remember. He didn’t listen though.

She’d danced closer then before slipping away from his sight as he was dazzled by the bursting sun. He remembered running for home to talk to his father, though it felt as though part of him remained behind. His father swore at him, but that was nothing new. He was reminded of his mother’s disappearance, of his paps’ disappearance, of everyone he’d known all too briefly and how, in each case, they’d been seen near the lake and then never again. The only way to be safe was to stay in the town, and work. “Just work!” his father said, not knowing why it was so hard for him to understand, but then, his father had never seen her dance.

The next thing he knew, she was dancing again, and he was lost in thought, thinking of differences in the lives he could live. He thought of safe lives … working the farm as his father wanted, seeking his fortune in the city as his gran wanted, getting a berth and sailing the sea as he used to want, building a cottage and starting his own farm. Or, of course, raising the nerve and stepping into the lake. All this he was thinking and almost didn’t notice when she danced ever nearer, reaching out, touching his forehead.

He saw green.


His gran and father sat in the old run-down house, staring at one another, but seeing neither. They hadn’t heard from him since he ran after that hare into the woods, ignoring their calls to return. They couldn’t chase him down, he could run far faster than either of them could anymore. All they could do was stand, out of breath and watch him run off in the direction of the lake, days ago.


Meanwhile, there he sat, alone with his branching thoughts.

Snapping Turtle – Albino

They had been best friends for years. They thought they would be friends forever. Then came the fateful day of the hike.

It had started as a pleasant day. They’d wandered the mountains, enjoying the scenery and conversation. Near the top of one mountain, she’d wanted to get a better view. He was worried about going out too far. Laughing, she teased him as she wandered out onto the cliff, dancing near the edge. His heart turned over as he saw her step on a loose rock, anger turning to fear.

As she slipped, he lunged forward, laying belly-flat on the cliff as he reached over to grab her, just missing her hand. She reached up to him as her left hand gave way and she fell, staring up at him in disappointment and sadness.

Snapping Turtle - Albino_1

That is, until she remembered they were both turtles and swam back up to the cliff’s face. They laughed about the situation and decided that they would actually stay friends forever.

Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)

Amur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica)_3

She gets sad sometimes. She knows not why.

Life is, after all, rather pleasant. The summer sun feels nice. There’s little wind. Her belly is full.

Still, her mind keeps turning to the past and to the future. She cannot focus on the now, where things are good. She remembers the before, and thinks of friends now gone. She thinks of the to be, and of her friends of today that will no longer be there, in the then.

A loner by nature, she nonetheless longs for company. Yet when company is found, wishes for solitude. Never satisfied. Never unthinking. Never at peace.

Perhaps, she ponders, emotions are a form of weather — some days being intrinsically sad in the same way that some days are inexplicably joyous. Maybe patterns of feelings swirl the globe, and some are just sensitive to the ebbs and flows. Could such a thing be measured, she wonders, with forecasts made and warnings released. Is that why some storms are called tropical depressions? Is this why pressure is described as high and low?

She thinks of the days when storms have swept through her life, life becoming a cataclysmic torrent of thunder, lightning, and rain interspersed with calm and sun; biting wind becoming gentle breeze in minutes, yet with the promise of turning once again, without warning. She wonders if anyone else feels like a maple seed, buffeted storm to storm, hoping to eventually land somewhere safe, to rest, to grow, and to, over time, become something else, something stronger.

She feels that no one does, but as she thinks, she remembers two others. Yes, there have been some. Some that knew. That she could talk to, that understood when some things just were and no amount of effort could change what was into something that was not to be. She remembers discussions, stretching deep into the night. Finding comprehension in others. Finding a strange sort of joy in discussing pain. But alas, they are gone now, lost to the past, naught by memory.

So she sits, alone, accompanied by none but a dandelion, ephemeral as all things, and thinks of things that were not and will never be.

Blind to the now.

The fable of the ant, the bee, and the grasshopper

Ant and Bee

The ant and the bee both hatched in the early spring and were taught their respective trades by their elders. Every day, the ant worked hard bringing food into the colony. And every day, the bee worked bringing food into its own colony. Throughout the spring, rain or shine, they would meet at a different flower in the garden and divide that day’s pollen so each colony would get enough. On particularly nice days, a grasshopper would come by to chat, but they ignored him, for the work was more important. Their queens demanded obedience.

Summer came, and they were able to work faster and more consistently. Every time they met, they would exchange brief greetings, and then get on with the work. The work was critical. Work was how the colonies would survive. How the colonies would thrive. As they worked, the grasshopper would look on, occasionally playing his fiddle* and trying to get them to take a break and relax with him. He was always unsuccessful.

As autumn came, both the ant and the bee began to slow down. They were getting old. However, they kept working. To not work was nearly unthinkable. The grasshopper attempted to sway them to his way of life, holding parties in different areas of the garden. However, each time one of them thought about giving in to relaxation and joy, they would look at the other, the ant drawing inspiration from the bee, and the bee getting support from the ant. Though it was harder, they kept working, and both of their colonies began to prepare for the winter. They knew their queens needed their help if the colony was to survive.

Winter began with a cold breeze and a quick frost. Neither the ant nor the bee could leave the colony that morning, and it wasn’t until the following day when the thin layer of ice melted and they could leave for the garden. There, they saw no more flowers to harvest. They saw that, finally, their work was done. As they investigated, they came across the dying grasshopper, caught in the early frost. As he lay there gasping** he admitted that there might be some value in hard work and apologized for distracting them so often. He wished he had worked hard to prepare for winter. And with that, he died.

With great senses of self justification, the ant and the bee each returned to their own respective colonies. However, it was cold, and journeys that once took only a few minutes, consumed the remainder of the day. Dusk was falling when each reached their own home. The bee found the hive door closed and no way to open it. The ant found all the entrances and exits blocked. Each colony had sealed for the winter.

Night came, and with it, another round of freezing cold. Both the ant and the bee died, near their former homes, wishing they had each taken some time to play and enjoy their lives, at least a little bit.

Meanwhile, in each colony, the queens laid next year’s worker eggs, so they could live another year in comfort and bliss.

Moral: Those in power screw over everyone else. Also, winter kinda sucks.

* It is worth noting, in the interest of scientific accuracy, that grasshoppers do not play literal fiddles. Instead they rub their legs against their wings, in a similar manner as fiddles, but without the little tuning pegs, so their range of sound is limited. This is why professional musicians do not play grasshoppers.

** Technically, grasshoppers don’t have lungs, but they do move their body as air rushes in and out of their spiracles. Since this doesn’t pass vocal cords, gasping for breath doesn’t interfere with communication as it does in humans.

The Taking Tree

Once, there was a tree and a boy. Most trees are rather indifferent to the ways of humans, but this one was different. She felt a connection to the boy and fostered a friendship. His youth was spent, as it often is, in play. But as expected, the boy soon began to want more.

The tree gave of her seeds, so the boy could make his way in the world of man. Winters and Summers went by and the man wanted a house in which to be married. The tree’s branches fell to that desire and the man entered the world of woman. She did not want to give up her limbs, for though trees feel pain differently than humans, they feel it much longer. Their wounds never truly healing, scarring over to ache with the seasons’ turns.

So it was almost a relief when the man visited her again, bereft of family and asked for a way to leave behind their memory and the memory of the plague year. That is how the tree was torn in two, her trunk a boat, her roots suckling at the earth as she awaited his return.

Eventually, by his reckoning, he did return. Time is, of course, different for trees, and her wait did not feel overly long. Always helpful, she offered him her stump, and he rested. However, she’d not been idle during his travels. Energy flowing from land and water, stored for years, surged from the stump into the elderly man. For a brief time, he felt rejuvenated, young again, before his mind became lost.

Casting her old body aside, the tree – finally in the form of man – set off from her hill to journey the land. She eventually reached a path and, looking around, decided that yes, this was a good place. This was a place that children would play. This was a place where she might find another. Reaching her body’s arms to the sky and digging her body’s toes into the dirt, she took root. Time slowed as she sipped at the water and basked in the sun.


And the blood oak awaited her next victim.

The Race

The race was on.

The enemies were approaching the hive and reinforcements were needed. Two hundred and twenty five meters was a long way, but it was necessary. The invaders must be stopped.

Only a quarter of the way and she was already getting tired. Still, the thought of the costs of her failure, drove her forward. Fifty thousand lives depended on her. And one two hundred and twenty five meters.

Glancing backward, she saw the invaders massing on the horizon and increased her speed. She realized she wouldn’t make it in time if she held anything back. She need not make the return trip. Conveying the message was enough. If the other hive could be alerted, they just might make it in time.

As she passed the three quarters point, she powered on, burning the last of her energy for the final stage of the race. She felt, deep in her body, that this was the end. When she reached her destination, she knew she’d just be able to deliver her message and, quite likely, collapse and die.

Death, however, was practically a guarantee in either case. If she stayed and fought, she would be slain with tens of thousands of others. If she was too slow, again, tens of thousands would die. If she just stopped, she might survive, but she might be the only one. No. Her only hope was to alert the others, in the hopes that they could help keep the total casualties low.

Though it may cost her life, she must fly.


The Selection

It was the morning of his twelfth year. As all in his tribe do at that time, he stood on the edge of the desert, preparing himself for his spirit journey. He wasn’t worried that he’d lack a guide, but he did have some concern as to who would select him.

As he walked the Trail of Selection, he thought back to his youthful dreams. As a small child, he had admired the strong guides. The tribe was led by a bear-chosen, rare but powerful. His parents were both puma-chosen – like often attracts like – and had been wonderful protectors, though relatively solitary ones.

He ducked through the briar, taking care not to tear his ceremonial questing coat. He was pretty sure the older kids were trying to scare him with stories of careless children being saddled with toads or worms, but there was no point in taking a risk.

Later, when he had had to run from the older bullies rather often, he had dreamed of joining with swift spirits. Pronghorn- and falcon-chosen grew into great messengers, fleet of foot and able to get away from all that threaten them.

He reached the boulder at the end of the trail, and paused, thinking about the spirit he truly wanted.

More recently, as he quietly watched adults, he had begun to desire a stealth spirit. A fox could lead him to become a great tracker. An owl could help him become more aware, and help guard the tribe at night.

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, turned the corner and dropped to his knees knowing that when he opened them, his life-long spirit animal would be there. When he could hold his breath no longer, he exhaled and opened his eyes to see his new partner, his god, the extension of his own soul reaching out to him.


He was rather disappointed.